Member of the Month – East African Playgrounds
Each month, one of our small charity members is celebrated for all the hard work they do for their beneficiaries as well as being an engaged FSI member. The September Member of the Month is East African Playgrounds– congratulations to Suzie and the team!
What is your charity’s mission?
East African Playgrounds uses the power of play to enhance the lives of children across Uganda; developing their learning opportunities, creativity and environments by building playgrounds and running play advocacy training for teachers and communities.
Through this work, we provide high quality training and employment for disadvantaged Ugandan adults through our playground building workshops.
How do you achieve this?
We work in disadvantaged communities across Uganda, helping children who do not get the chance to play, for reasons including poverty, lack of facilities, or past traumatic experiences. We use a repeatable model in each community, which includes:
- providing children in communities with high quality, safe and exciting play facilities, installed using recycled and local materials, designed with children through in depth consultation sessions.
- training teachers in the importance of play-based, child-centred teaching for children’s learning and how to use this style of teaching in lessons, as opposed to the ineffective ‘rote teaching’ often found in Ugandan schools.
- training communities and parents in the importance of play for children’s wellbeing and development, and ways to encourage children to play at home
This work is carried out by our team of 45 Ugandan staff, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds themselves. We also run an apprenticeship scheme for former street children, which allows them to gain skills in welding, building or catering, helping them find work in the future and combat the stigma they face.
What are your successes to date?
East African Playgrounds has grown very quickly since our inception in 2009 – from a tiny volunteer-led charity building just one playground a year to working in over 40 communities in Uganda in 2016. We’ve worked really hard recently to develop our programme to include not just the physical playgrounds but also the play training we provide to communities, to ensure we have the biggest, and most sustainable impact possible.
Over the last couple of years, with the help and support of larger NGOs including UNICEF and Plan International, we’ve been successful in expanding our play programme to Uganda’s refugee settlements. This has meant we have been able to work with refugee children, many of whom have been through terrible experiences, to help them heal through play, and remember what it means to have fun.
What challenges do you face as a small charity?
We are a small charity with big plans, and I’m sure in common with many other small charities, it can be hard to find enough time to do everything we want to, alongside keeping the charity running day to day. Being small also means that very few people are aware of us or what we do, which can be frustrating when trying to access funding or other support. Working between the UK and Uganda can sometimes make communication difficult, particularly when the Ugandan internet isn’t cooperating!
What is your relationship with the FSI?
We have been involved with the FSI since not long after we became a charity – since our early days we’ve learnt lots through their subsidised training sessions, as well as attending both skills conference and fundraising conference. The FSI have also been great to talk to when we need advice on a specific issue or support with a particular funding application, for example. Just recently we were thrilled to be awarded a Small Charity Big Impact Award by the FSI which really has been brilliant for us. Thanks FSI!
What does winning member of the month mean to you?
We are all so pleased! Member of the Month is a great opportunity to share what we do with more people, and raise awareness of our cause.
Suzie Rees is the Fundraising Manager at East African Playgrounds.
Interestested in learning more, visit the East African Playgrounds website for more information.